Storm remnants, front bring heavy rain

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, September 20, 2016

After two days of heavy rain and flooding, Beaufort County and the rest of eastern North Carolina can expect somewhat of a respite.

In a one-hour period Monday afternoon, 4.36 inches of rain fell at Washington-Warren Airport, where a total of 6.47 inches of rain fell throughout Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The chance of rain Wednesday is 70 percent, with a 40-percent chance of thunderstorms Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport. For Thursday, the chance of thunderstorms is 40 percent, tapering to a 30-percent chance Thursday night. There’s a 30-percent chance of thunderstorms Friday.

The threat of heavy rain continues this week as a low-pressure area slowly crosses the region, with localized flooding possible in low-lying and poor drainage areas, according to NWS forecasters.

“This is the post-remnants of Julie that got sucked up with the upper-level trough that we have along with this frontal boundary that’s making its way through the area right now. It’s kind of a converging zone of all the moisture that’s right over the top of us. We’ll see some relief on Friday,” said Bel Melindez, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Newport, on Tuesday.

With all that expected rain, Washington officials are keeping an eye on the level of the Pamlico River. A significant rise in the level could prevent the city from moving stormwater runoff into the river.

“Today (Tuesday), all the water we had last night (Monday) is actually going into the Pamlico River. The only problem is when the Pamlico River rises and it gets to a certain level, there’s nothing that we can do either through Runyon (Creek) and Jack’s Creek to actually drop the water into the Pamlico River. We have been working our pumps, and we’ve got a backup system over there and a generator. We’ve been doing a good job on the pumps. Those guys came in (Monday) night and worked late,” City Manager Bobby Roberson said.

On Jack’s Creek, the city has a system of pumps and floodgates that allow heavy stormwater runoff to make its way to the river, if the river level isn’t high enough to prevent that from happening. Sometimes in advance of expected heavy rain, city crews activate the pumps and move water out of the Jack’s Creek basin so it has the capacity to handle heavy stormwater runoff.

City public-safety personnel are prepared to again mark high-water areas with signs and traffic cones and assist where needed, Roberson said.

During Monday afternoon’s deluge, city public-safety personnel helped evacuate residents of the Heritage Park Drive area off Minuteman Lane near the North Carolina National Guard Armory. “They did get flooded. We did work to move those individuals out with the assistance of the Red Cross and John Pack (Beaufort County’s director of emergency services),” Roberson said.

As for those residents, “only three of them will be inconvenienced,” Pack said Tuesday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to several vehicles that “flooded out” Monday evening on U.S. Highway 17 north of Washington, Pack said.

“The firefighters said they had never seen that much water on the road when it was two lanes, but when you see it on four lanes, it gets a little scary,” Pack said. “Two-and-half feet of water, cars not knowing it’s there and hit, we’re luck all it did was put the car sideways in the road and drown it. They got the occupants out, but it took them a little while to get the car out.”

Firefighters prevented vehicles from driving through the high-water areas until they observed the water receding, he noted. “They probably saved a life,” Pack said.

No major damage caused by flooding has been reported, Pack said.

“It won’t take as much water as it took last time. Everything is pretty well soaked,” Pack said about potential flooding the rest of the week.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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